Eighteen people were killed in a stampede yesterday as tens of thousands gathered to mourn the death of a spiritual leader in India’s financial capital, police said. At least 40 other people were injured in the pre-dawn stampede when mourners thronged the home of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the head of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community, Mumbai Police Commissioner Satya Pal Singh said. Burhanuddin died on Friday at the age of 102. Indian TV stations showed tens of thousands of white-clad mourners in the streets of Malabar Hill, an upmarket neighborhood in south Mumbai. Singh said the stampede occurred when the gates leading to the leader’s house were closed at about 1am. The crowds surged forward, with many people getting crushed near the gates and with no way to escape.
Pilot whales beached
More than 50 pilot whales beached themselves yesterday on the same remote New Zealand coast where another 52 whales have either died or been put down in the past two weeks.The Farewell Spit beach, at the top of the South Island, is a renowned death trap for whales. Of the 53 whales in the latest stranding, 13 were dead and efforts were being made to refloat the remaining 40. Regional department of conservation manager John Mason said he believes the whales were from the same pod herded out to sea after another stranding during the week. Farewell Spit, about 150km from the tourist city of Nelson, is frequently the scene of mass strandings by pilot whales, with scientists unsure why they swim ashore in large groups.
Manado flood kills 17
The death toll from rain-triggered landslides and flash floods on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island has climbed to 17. National Search and Rescue Agency operational chief Tatang Zainuddin said rescuers were still looking for about 15 people believed to be buried under a landslide outside Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province. Days of torrential rains caused landslides and flash floods in Manado and surrounding areas on Wednesday. Zainuddin aid the death toll rose to 17 on Friday when the body of the chief of a local public health center was pulled from the debris. More than 1,000 houses were flooded by overflowing rivers in the region, forcing about 10,000 displaced people into temporary shelters. The government on Friday declared a two-week emergency response to cope with the disaster.
Activist’s trial date set
Chinese dissident Xu Zhiyong (許志永) is to go on trial on Wednesday on charges of disrupting public order, his lawyer said on Friday. Xu is a prominent legal activist who founded the New Citizens’ Movement, a loose network of campaigners on a variety of social issues including corruption and equal access to education. At least six other activists associated with Xu’s group have been charged and are also expected to be tried soon. Xu’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang (張慶方), said he and another lawyer met on Friday with prosecutors, who rejected their protests over the charges. He said the trial would be held at Beijing’s Intermediary Court. Zhang said no media or outside observers will be allowed to attend.The charge of disrupting public order appears to be linked to Xu’s call for people to hold monthly dinners to discuss China’s constitution and other issues.
Stunned nun, 31, bears son
A Salvadorean nun who said she had no idea she was pregnant gave birth in Italy this week after she felt stomach cramps in her convent and was rushed to hospital, Italian media reported on Friday. The 31-year-old mother and her boy, who weighs 3.5kg, are doing well and other new mothers in Rieti hospital have begun collecting clothes and donations for her, the reports said. “I did not know I was pregnant. I only felt a stomach pain,” the nun was quoted as saying at the hospital, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. La Repubblica said she gave birth on Wednesday. ANSA said the nun had named her baby Francesco (Francis) — also the pope’s chosen title and one of the most popular names in Italy, where Saint Francis of Assisi is the much-loved national patron saint. The nun belongs to the “Little Disciples of Jesus” convent in Campomoro near Rieti, which manages an old people’s home. Reports said she would keep the baby. Her fellow nuns were quoted as saying they were “very surprised.”